7 Steps to Take After a Break-In
It's a situation no one wants to imagine will ever happen to them. You arrive home to find broken glass or a damaged door jamb, a pit forming in your stomach, as you try to figure out what to do. Your instinct is to run inside and check through your home, but should you? We hope you will never be in a position to need this checklist, but reading it ahead of time will help you to know how to respond if you are ever the victim of a break-in.
- First Thing: Call the Police
- Take Pictures and Write Everything Down
- Call Your Insurance Agent
- Repair and Secure Your Home
- Do a Security Check
- Talk to Your Neighbors
- Take a Break
Do not go inside your home. Wait for the police to arrive and let them secure your home for your safety. Every now and then, we hear about a customer who went inside after a break-in, only to discover that the intruder is still there. This is one encounter that we would never want you to risk.
Once you go inside, take pictures of everything before you start to move things around. Take pictures of any damage, the point of entry, and any possible items the burglar may have left behind. Then, go back through your home and record missing and damaged items. If you have any security cameras, go through your footage immediately. Many camera systems re-record over old footage, so be sure to do this soon, and make a copy of the incident for the police. Always be sure to make a separate copy for yourself as well.
Before the police leave, ask them for their incident or report number; your insurance agent will ask you for this. Let your agent know about missing items and damage done to your home. He will be able to tell you what your plan covers. An important thing to do BEFOREHAND, is to keep receipts and photographs of major purchases in a safe place. If you can supply this to your agent it will go far in helping you to get better reimbursements for missing property. It will also help the police to recognize your belongings.
Thieves can be messy. Repair any damage from his break-in-point immediately. The unfortunate reality is that an intruder will often target your home again, usually within a week. He'll use the same entry point if it's available, so be sure to repair that damage quickly. Is there a weak door jamb? Fix and secure it as quickly as you can. Is there a broken window? Replace broken panes or board up your window in the meantime.
Go around the perimeter of your home and look for security weaknesses. Start with the basics and check your windows and doors to be sure they are locked. Examine those locks; your perimeter doors should have strong high-security bolt locks. Talk with your locksmith about which locks provide the best protection and any other methods you can use to secure your doors. Windows can be a high vulnerability area but are more secure with a glass break sensor or security camera. A camera placed outside the home overlooking the window is a strong deterrent to a thief who is canvassing your home. Also, a camera inside your home facing the window will accomplish the same thing.
It's always a good idea to let your neighbors know about a burglary. The intruder canvassed your neighborhood first before deciding that your home would be a good target. This often means that he was scoping out your neighbors homes as well. Be sure your neighbors are aware of the situation and talk to them about the possibility of setting up a neighborhood watch. If nothing else, agree to be watchful of each other's homes and alert each other or the police if something doesn't seem right.
Allow yourself some time to get through this and try to take a day off from work to take care of things. It may help to see a counselor about what you've been through or talk with a close friend. Take whatever steps you need to in order to feel safe in your home again. This is a difficult circumstance to find yourself in, and you will need time to recover.
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